Friday, July 5, 2013

"Literary" Musings - Rated R

So, remember when I posted about 50 Shades of Grey and the resulting media firestorm and really people should be allowed to read whatever they want (with possible exceptions of how to build bombs or similarly national-safety-threatening items)?

Well, since then I've continued my trend of eclectic reading material.  Some I will openly proclaim.  I like all of Patricia Briggs "traditional" fantasy -- haven't read any of her urban fantasy.  And I will be forever grateful for eBooks for making it feasible (read: cheap) for authors to re-emerge, such as PC Hodgell, whom I have very much enjoyed.  Nevermind that both authors write very strong female heroines ... whose cleavage is prominently displayed on the covers.  Frown.

The Patricia Briggs novels that I have read have all involved romance, mostly in a PG or PG-13 sort of way.

The PC Hodgell novels about the Kencyrath have definitely been more PG except for one thing.  The heroine's love interest is her brother.  (There's a bit more to it, but nothing changes the fact that he's her brother.)

Now, in this world and culture that Hodgell has created, this is acceptable by society.  In fact, given the strength of their bloodline, it is both desirable and expected by some.

However, in our current society, this is beyond a faux pas and into criminal territory -- as in, you can't marry someone closer to you than a 2nd cousin (based on a 5 second Google search).

I find it interesting that I like this author and this character enough that I am rooting for this romance, despite my occasional head tilt. 

In somewhat related news, I still read some things that I can only call crap -- primarily romance novels.  (Note -- I'm not saying all romance novels are crap.  But many are.)

Since 50 Shades came out, a lot of authors who tend toward the steamier / more explicit side of romance have definitely hopped on the bandwagon.  No blame here -- a capitalist society typically generates such reactions.

My qualm is this.

50 Shades is an explicit romance about a monogamous relationship that involves BDSM.  And I don't have an issue with that.   

My issue is that I've read some books that seem to me to be a game of one-ups-manship -- who can be the most daring, in hope of attracting the most readers.  

  • Oh you had a scene with bondage, so I'm going to have a scene with spanking.
  • I see your bondage and spanking, and raise you a threesome.
  • ...And so forth with the escalations (I'm trying not to be too graphic here)

One particular author that I've read (because Amazon recommended her to me, based on previous purchases ... sometimes it's like you either don't know me, Amazon, or you don't know what you're recommending...) crossed my personal boundary by inviting other people into the room.

More explicit explanation in smaller font for those who choose to skip over it:

Though there are a few scenes in different books, and all at least begin with consent from the woman, the example I'm thinking of involves a woman being nude when her partner's business associates come up to a hotel suite for a meeting.  She is bound before them, and things escalate to a point where she no longer is willing to participate, and things get out of hand.  No actual rape occurs, but video of the incident later surfaces, and the male partner involved is upset because he had only started this to prove to himself that he didn't have an emotional attachment to the woman.

When reading this novel, for the first time ever I threw my Kindle across the room in disgust.  (Luckily I throw like a girl, and it just ended up at the end of the bed.)

What I am saying is that in no way did this behavior appeal to me.  I did not find it in any way romantic.  I did not and do not have any sort of fantasy about this behavior. 

My intention here is not to judge anyone.  I have always believed that what goes on between *consenting* adults is their business -- so long as no one is harmed.  If this is someone else's cup of tea, more power to them.

As for me, it felt more like being at a steakhouse as a vegetarian.

What I find demoralizing here is that so very many of these books seem to be about women relinquishing control to a man.  Very few are about women taking control.  Based on that, I assume that the submissive-women-plots sell more and are more popular.

I just wonder what implications that has for our society.

I also wonder what it says about me, that I am more on-board with an incestuous romance in a fantasy world, than a submissive romance in the real world.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marrying Down

The husband of a good friend told her that he had "married down" as part of an argument/discussion/conversation that I won't go into.

This upsets me on many levels, and since I am trying my damnedest to butt out of a relationship of which I am not a member, I will be venting now.

First, this woman is my friend.  No, she is not perfect.  She has flaws.  We all do.  But she has been my friend for years, and I am loyal to her.  Therefore, when someone says anything that hurts her deliberately - which I can only assume this comment was intended to do - I get what you might call "furious."  (You do not want to upset my mama bear instincts, people.  It becomes ouch-time for you.)

I had to restrain myself from texting her husband to tell him "look, jackass, you don't get to talk to my friend that way."  But I did.  Restrain myself.  Because I am a grown-up, and I realize that what goes on in the privacy of their relationship is none of my business.  Even though I don't like it that my friend was hurt, it is not my place to confront her husband about it.  It is hers.

Second, and I say this as someone who has never been married, I simply can't imagine ever telling my spouse that I "married down."  Presumably, you get married because you love each other.  Presumably, if you love each other, you think the world of one another.  I'm not saying this means you don't recognize that neither of you is perfect -- again, we all have flaws.  But you both agreed to commit to one another enough to be married, so you agreed to accept each others' flaws. 

I can understand perhaps having a conversation with a spouse in a supportive way -- something along the lines of "I think you're great - you have so much potential - what can I do to help you fulfill your ambitions."  Perhaps even a more assertive "Let's talk about short-term goals for our family -- I was thinking this -- and that might mean some changes.  What do you think?"  type of conversation. 

As a single person, I can't say I've really ever been in a position to have these conversations.

But I just simply can't imagine what amounts to saying "You know, I'm way better than you" to someone I love enough to be married to.

I've been upset about this for hours.  Hopefully by blogging about it, I can put those feelings down.


Monday, July 1, 2013


I am wearing a sleeveless dress today at work.

Why is this post-worthy?  Because I have never, ever done it before.

Almost everyone is self-conscious about some part of their body.  I tend toward this more than the average person.

I think my arms are ugly.  They are jiggly and piggly and wiggly and other iggly-adjectives.

But as my sister said (of herself) -- it's not like someone looking at me can't see that my arms are fat, even if I have sleeves on.  So I might as well wear what I want.

Today, I'm giving it a try. 

I've got a cute dress on.  It doesn't have sleeves.  And I'm not wearing a cardigan over it. 

I'm not entirely comfortable, but I'm working on it. 

And no one has stared and pointed / laughed.